The Last 25 Years: Best Seventh-Round Picks – Defense


We have come to the end.  It’s time for the twelfth and final part in our series covering the best draft picks from rounds two through seven over the last twenty-five years.

(I should point out that there have been a couple of omissions along the way – RB Terrell Davis in round six and DE Trent Cole in round five.  If you see others let me know.)

Today, we’ll be looking at the best defensive players selected in the seventh round.

Defensive Tackle – Bryce Fisher, Pick 248, 1999, Buffalo Bills

Fisher started off his career in Buffalo.  That lasted a year.  Since then, he’s spent time in St. Louis (3 years), Seattle (3 years) and has been in Tennessee for the last year.  His career stats aren’t bad – 222 tackles, 26.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 12 passes defensed.

Others – None

Defensive End – Leon Lett, Pick 173, 1991, Dallas Cowboys

Who will ever forget Lett having the ball stripped out of his hand by Don Beebe before he got to the end zone in the Super Bowl or his blunder in the icy conditions in Dallas against Miami on Thanksgiving Day?  But he had a solid NFL career.  He made two Pro Bowl appearances while helping Dallas to three Super Bowl wins.  And his stats are very solid – 229 tackles, 22.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries.

Defensive End – Jeff Zgonina, Pick 185, 1993, Pittsburgh Steelers

It might be easier to tell you where Zgonina hasn’t played but we thought we would list all the cities in which he’s played – Pittsburgh, Carolina, Atlanta, St. Louis (two occasions), Indianapolis, Miami, Houston.  His career numbers – 401 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 1 int., 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 10 passes defensed.

Others – Brett Keisel, Pittsburgh Steelers (#242, 2002); Lester Archambeau, Green Bay Packers (#186, 1990).

Linebacker – Greg Biekert, Pick 181, 1993, Los Angeles Raiders

Biekert was chosen late but found himself playing a lot for the Raiders – appearing in 144 games and starting 123.  He may be best known for recovering Tom Brady’s famous “Tuck Rule” fumble in the playoff game versus the Patriots.  He played his last three seasons with Minnesota and retired after eleven years.  His career stats – 1104 tackles, 16 sacks, 7 int., 11 forced fumbles, 6 recoveries, 42 passes defensed.

Linebacker – Tully Banta-Cain, Pick 239, 2003, New England Patriots

After winning two Super Bowls with the Pats, Bunta-Cain moved on San Francisco after the 2006 season.  His career stats – 132 tackles, 12 sacks, 1 int., 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD (fumble), 2 passes defensed.

Others – Lester Towns, Carolina Panthers (#221, 2000).

Cornerback – Reynaldo Hill, Pick 218, 2005, Tennessee Titans

Hill has been a decent performer considering that he was nearly left undrafted.  His career stats aren’t too bad after three years – 123 tackles, 6 int., 1 TD, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 13 passes defensed.

Cornerback – Renaldo Hill, Pick 202, 2001, Arizona Cardinals

We’ve mentinoed this type of player before – “a guy” – a decent player who can fill a role on the team but who probably won’t be going to lots of Pro Bowls.  Hill has been fairly solid  playing for Arizona, Oakland and Miami – 397 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 12 int., 1 TD, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 42 passes defensed.

Others – Jacques Reeves, Dallas Cowboys (#223, 2004).

Safety – Pat Tillman, Pick 202, 2001, Arizona Cardinals

Tillman was becoming one of the great safeties in the game when he decided to enlist in the Army in 2002.  He was killed in action in Afghanistan.  During his playing days, he had become known as a hard-nosed player.  He turned down a $3.6 million offer to remain with the team to serve his country.  He ended his career after playing only 60 games with 238 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 int., 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 passes defensed.

Safety – Marlon McCree, Pick 233, 2001, Jacksonville Jaguars

McCree is a player who has been with several teams – Jaguars, Texans, Panthers and Chargers.  His career numbers aren’t bad – 419 tackles, 3 sacks, 16 int., 1 TD, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 1 TD (fumble), 28 passes defensed.